Getting in touch with ourselves and the world around us can have incredible results in our life. Reading or studying expands your view of the world, while exercise and nutrition help you feel and operate your best. Knowing when to give it your all is important, but knowing how and when to dial everything down a notch matters.
Meditation is a proven way to improve your overall health. Bringing nature into the fold, however, can manifestly boost the benefits it has. Below, Olivers is going to do a dive into the essentials behind meditation and how meditating outdoors can bolster them.
Practice and Theory: Meditation
Meditation is a millennia-old practice. The oldest confirmed mention of it dates back to 1500 BC, but it is believed to have originated even earlier. It originated as a religious practice, and much of its dissemination relied on the spiritual nature of meditating. Despite this, you don’t need any special beliefs or practices to engage in meditation.
All you need is a waypoint. Generally, meditating is done in a comfortable, seated, cross-legged position. Eyes are usually closed, and breathing is deliberately controlled. This allows you to focus on the inner world of what is going on in your body and mind.
There are three general types of meditation: Guided, mantra, and mindfulness.Guided meditation has the user imagining a particular place and the sensations that may arise from being there. This is often done with the help of a teacher, especially in group settings.
There are countless other ways to meditate. This practice has dissipated to countless cultures over thousands of years. The above showcases the core ways to meditate in sedentary positions that anyone can do anywhere.
To meditate, find a spot where you can be, comfortably, and breathe in. Close your eyes, and use whatever focus you like to center yourself. Don’t try to constrict or focus your thoughts, but let them ebb and flow peacefully as they come. Breathe out, and start the cycle again.
How Meditation Affects Us
Meditation is simple to practice, and it also has outsized benefits for its accessibility. Countless studies have been performed on its uses in countless contexts. It can help you actualize yourself long after your meditation session has ended.
Some of the highest-profile practitioners of meditation are household-name artists. These include David Lynch, Katy Perry, Mick Jagger, and Hugh Jackman. Meditation calms the background noise that accumulates in life and allows us to become better creative artists.
This can be a pathway to better awareness and understanding of yourself and the world around you. All forms of meditation require you to focus on your breath and the sensation of living in your own body.
If you have shallow breathing habits or hold tension in particular places, meditation will reveal these cracks in your armor. Once identified, it becomes easy to alter these habits to maximize your own comfort.
The benefits go beyond vague ones of comfort and artistic expression. There are concretely documented health benefits to the practice of meditation. It can help alleviate both physical and mental illnesses with regular and committed practice.
In regards to mental health, it can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also be used to improve focus and attentiveness once you come out of your meditative state.
Meditation has been seen to result in lowered blood pressure and even in reducing chronic pain. These combined can help sidestep or lessen the risk of a variety of illnesses.
The Great Outdoors: A Natural Meditation Boost
The spiritual side of meditative practices believes that by doing so outside, we better commune with nature. Our bodies become one with the world around us, enabling deeper connections.
The scientific truth may not be terribly far off. We live in an increasingly digitized world, for better and for worse. Dementia, eye strain, and echo chambers are a few hazards risked by a world of constant media consumption. Thankfully, there is an increasing push to incorporate nature into urbanized areas. Nature preservation and even urban farming initiatives all serve to return us to our roots.
Replacing indoor with outdoor meditation changes out the subtle thrum of machinery for the soothing sounds of nature. It can provide a sense of solitude and newness that meditating in your own home cannot provide.
These changes are more than just cosmetic. The positive benefits of meditating have been seen to increase further when meditating outside. Embracing nature can improve concentration and overall cognitive function compared to meditating in city settings.
Exercising and exploring outdoors is already a wonderful activity that meditation can be easily integrated into. The practice, for a brief session, takes only 10 minutes. On a day hike, you can wait until you find the perfect spot of seclusion before beginning your inward focus. What better place to contemplate where you are than by a lush knoll or overlooking an incredible mountain vista?
This isn’t to say that you should exclusively meditate outdoors. If you have a lifestyle that allows you to be outside all the time, then, by all means, do so. For many of us, journeying to secluded pockets of nature isn’t always in the cards. In these instances, natural and urban meditation in tandem may be the reality.
The first step is meditating. When you have the chance, do it outside.
Better Balance Through Nature
Meditating in nature is a way to boost an already effective and easy practice. The constant stream of content in the world may give us the impression that we have no spare time. There is always another show, another performance, another day of work to draw in our attention and distract us. The truth is that if we look, each of us has windows of time, even on our busiest days.
This small window is all we need. Meditation can be done anywhere, so long as you have the time and willingness to be present with yourself. It’s regularly done in nature and in offices, during commutes, and at home to begin or end people's days. This practice belongs to anyone who is willing to put in the work for it.
It may not be easy at first. Achieving stillness is counterintuitive to the way much of our society exists now. This is part of why nature is so effective at improving it. The rugged and lush beauty of the world forces us to unplug and be aware of our surroundings.
If you don’t want to go it alone, meditation retreats exist. These allow you to take one step further in letting go of the stress of daily life. A meditation retreat focuses on these practices that will make them easier to achieve in daily life. These are performed unplugged from technology, untouched by the chaotic world we live in.
Balancing a life is difficult. Countless demands are made of us as workers, family members, and human beings that are sometimes hard to reconcile. Nature gives us a chance to embrace stillness and return better able to be the people we want to be.